Meth Detox & Withdrawal
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant that causes people who have developed a physiological dependence to the drug to experience withdrawal symptoms when they quit or reduce their use.1
This page will go over the symptoms of meth withdrawal, offer a general meth withdrawal timeline, and explain how treatment can help someone recover from their methamphetamine addiction.
What Is Meth Withdrawal?
Meth withdrawal is the process in which the brain and body readjusts to functioning without methamphetamine after a period of regular use.2 Meth withdrawal is characterized by an intense exhaustive and depressive state that may lead a person to relapse shortly after they attempt to quit.3
Experiencing withdrawal when someone attempts to quit or reduce their stimulant use is one of the diagnostic criteria that doctors use when determining whether a patient may have a stimulant use disorder (also known as stimulant addiction).4
What Are the Symptoms of Meth Withdrawal?
The symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal are seldom life-threatening, though they can be extremely unpleasant, and some chronic users may be at heightened risk for suicidal thoughts or behavior when “coming down.”5
During meth withdrawal, patients may experience:4, 5, 6
- Depression and dysphoria (intense feelings of unhappiness, unease, and dissatisfaction).
- Over-sleeping or insomnia.
- Intense fatigue.
- Meth cravings.
- Increased appetite.
- Agitation and irritability.
- Trouble concentrating.
People who use meth or other stimulants often follow a “binge and crash” pattern, repeatedly using meth every several hours, sometimes for days or more at a time. Since meth use decreases appetite and causes insomnia, people can suffer health consequences from nutritional deficiency and staying awake for days.1 Health problems may increase the severity of meth withdrawal symptoms.5
One of the potentially serious symptoms of meth withdrawal is negative thoughts and depression, which may lead to self-harm. People in withdrawal, particularly after prolonged meth use or those with preexisting depression, should be closely monitored for risk of suicide and/or treated for any co-occurring mental illness, if deemed necessary.3, 5
Additionally, people who regularly use stimulants often become dependent on other substances like alcohol, opioids, or sedatives, which may be used in conjunction with meth or to take the edge off of “coming down.” Withdrawal from these substances can further compound the detoxification process. Combining meth with other drugs or alcohol can mask some of their intoxicating effects, putting a person at risk of a life-threatening overdose or other complications.3, 5
How Long Does Meth Withdrawal Last?
Generally, meth withdrawal begins about 24 hours after someone stops use. The duration of meth withdrawal varies and is generally longer for those who used more frequently at higher doses. Acute stimulant withdrawal typically lasts 3–5 days, though it is common for certain symptoms of meth withdrawal to last more than a week.3, 5, 7
Some studies have shown that the intensity of meth withdrawal tends to peak shortly after cessation and gradually decrease over a period of multiple weeks.6, 8
Depression, anhedonia (an inability to feel pleasure), and drug cravings are common after acute withdrawal and may be experienced (either consistently or in waves of less or greater severity) for weeks or months following the last use. The period of depression experienced by amphetamine users is more prolonged and may be more intense than depression experienced during withdrawal from other stimulants, like cocaine.5
How to Cope with Meth Detox
While meth withdrawal is seldom life-threatening, there are some serious psychological symptoms like psychosis and depression that can lead to self-harm or suicide.3, 5 Medical detox enables patients to experience withdrawal in a safe, comfortable, and substance-free environment under the supervision of medical professionals.5
At the beginning of medical detox, patients undergo an evaluation that helps staff understand and prepare for potential complications during withdrawal and adjust treatment accordingly.
Variables that may alter the proper course of treatment include:5
- Frequency of meth use and any presence of other drugs.
- Mental and physical health history.
- Co-occurring disorders or comorbid medical conditions.
- Social environment and risk of relapse, which affects the recommended course of action following detox.
At Oxford Treatment Center, medical detox typically lasts between 5–7 days.
After a patient has been stabilized and moves past the acute phase of withdrawal, they may benefit from additional treatment for a stimulant use disorder. Effective medical detox facilities will foster entry into continued treatment programs.5 While detox is often a necessary first step in recovery, detox on its own is rarely effective in helping someone achieve lasting sobriety.9
In rehabilitation treatment, patients build the skills and learn alternative behavioral patterns and ways of coping that can help them avoid and overcome the triggers that lead them to use meth or other substances. Various forms of evidence-based behavioral therapy methods may be used and can be performed in both outpatient rehab and inpatient rehab settings.9, 10 The ideal type of addiction treatment and setting will vary based on the patient’s individual needs.9, 11
It is widely considered to be best practice for patients with co-occurring mental health disorders to receive treatment for these other conditions simultaneously. Research shows that an integrated treatment approach for people with addiction and co-occurring mental illnesses is more effective than individually treating each problem, since one disease influences the course of the other.12
Stimulant use disorder is a potentially devastating, but treatable disease.9 Federal laws mandate most insurers to provide coverage for addiction treatment.13 Find out whether your insurer covers addiction treatment at Oxford Treatment Center by using the HIPAA-compliant form below.